May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month, so we are taking a look at the most common food allergies in kids. Many children have food sensitivities or intolerances, but allergies are different. Allergies are an immune response to certain proteins in foods. The symptoms of allergies can be more severe than the symptoms of food intolerance.
One of the possible effects of a food allergy is called anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that affects the entire body. It can include a wide range of symptoms that appear quickly. The following symptoms may be signs of anaphylaxis especially if they appear suddenly after exposure to a possible allergen:
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Wheezing or coughing
- Tightness in chest
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tight feeling in throat
- Swelling of the lips or tongue
- Rash, redness, or hives and/or pale and bluish skin
- Weak pulse
- Stuffy or runny nose
As you can see, it’s important to be aware of any food allergies your child has so you can adjust their diet to avoid trigger foods. The Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires FDA regulated foods to clearly list any of the top eight allergens in their ingredient information. Any food has the potential to cause an allergy, but these are the eight most common food allergies in kids.
The most common food allergy in kids is milk. Milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance may cause symptoms like bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Milk allergy can cause symptoms like hives, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis.
2. Tree Nuts
Tree nut allergies are the second most common food allergy in children. There is a long list of tree nuts that should be avoided. They include (but are not limited to):
- Brazil nuts
Another one of the most common food allergies in children is eggs. While the egg white is the part of the egg that causes the allergic reaction, eggs in all forms should be avoided. Any foods that have even traces of eggs in the ingredients also need to be avoided. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation has a helpful list of foods containing eggs you should avoid if your child is allergic to eggs.
Another common food allergy in kids is peanuts. Children who are allergic to peanuts often have serious reactions that are near-fatal. Unlike some allergies, peanut allergies are usually life-long once the allergy is acquired. Children who are allergic to peanuts need to avoid eating foods that contain peanuts in all forms. For a list of food products containing peanuts, consult this list from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
Soy allergies are common among children, but most kids outgrow their soy allergies by the age of 10 according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). Soy is an ingredient in a large number of foods as a source of protein. Many vegetarian and vegan foods use soy to substitute for meat protein. Check this list of products containing soy to be safe.
Wheat allergies are common in children, but the symptoms of the allergic reaction are often mild. However, because some reactions are severe and life-threatening, it’s important that children with wheat allergies steer clear of any food containing wheat.
According to the ACAAI, nearly 7 million Americans have shellfish allergies. The symptoms of shellfish allergy include an itchy mouth, hives, or stomachache after eating lobster, crab, shrimp, or another type of shellfish. Some people with shellfish allergies do not even have to eat shellfish to get symptoms. Being around cooking shellfish or eating other food that has had contact with shellfish may trigger a reaction.
Fish allergies may not be as common as the other foods on this list, but an allergy to finned fish is a frequent cause of anaphylaxis according to the ACAAI. While some children may have fish allergies, these allergies may not develop until adulthood for some people. Common fish people have allergic reactions to include tuna, salmon, and halibut.
At HealthPark Pediatrics, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to our patients from birth to age 21. As always, the health and safety of our staff and patients is our top concern. We are taking steps to ensure that patients are safe visiting our office. This includes using a separate entrance for sick visits, limiting the number of staff and physicians, observing social distancing guidelines, and offering telemedicine visits. If you have questions or concerns, call (919) 896-706 to talk to a team member about making an appointment.